Crosby, MacKinnon and McDavid among Canada’s top 6 players for 2025 4-nation matchup

Las vigas — From Patrick Roy to Martin Brodeur to Curtis Joseph to Roberto Luongo to Carey Price, goaltending has always been a strength for Canada in international hockey over the past three decades.

So far.

When the first six players on Canada’s roster for the 2025 Four Nations Championship were announced by the NHL and NHLPA on Friday, the wow factor was at the forefront.

Forwards Connor McDavid (3) of the Edmonton Oilers, Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins (2) and Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche (1) have combined to win six Hart Trophies as the NHL’s best player. Defenceman Cale Makar won the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s rookie of the year in 2019-20, the Norris Trophy as the best defenceman in 2021-22 and the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Stanley Cup Playoffs’ best player in the same season. Forward Brayden Point has 185 points (97 goals, 88 assists) in 163 games over the past two seasons. Forward Brad Marchand, captain of the Boston Bruins, has 401 goals and is up 292 for his career. They’ve combined for eight Stanley Cups.

This group will have no problem when it comes to putting pucks in the net. The big question is: who will stop them from going in?

“Obviously goaltending is one of those (positions) that’s always going to be under the microscope for any team, but especially with it being Canada and with Carey being there previously,” Crosby said, noting that Price backed Canada to gold at the 2014 Olympics and the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. “He’s a guy that’s not going to be easily replaced, but I think there’s a lot of guys that can do that.”

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“I think with any position, there are always going to be tough decisions to make, but this one will be even more important, I think, because of Curry being there before.”

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Could Jordan Binnington be the one to help the St. Louis Blues win the 2019 Stanley Cup?

Or one of the Vegas Golden Knights’ duo of Aden Hill and Logan Thompson, who teamed up to bring the Cup to Nevada last June?

Or what about Stuart Skinner, who supported the Edmonton Oilers in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final this season?

Or will another contender emerge for the tournament, which will be held at Montreal’s Bell Centre and Boston’s TD Garden from Feb. 12 to 20. It will be the first top-flight tournament since the 2016 World Cup of Hockey in Toronto.

“It’s definitely one of those things where Canada is a little bit skinnier than it used to be,” Martin Brodeur, the New Jersey Devils’ executive vice president of hockey operations who helped Canada win its first gold medal in 50 years at the 2002 Olympics, told NHL.com from the Draft Sphere floor of the 2024 NHL Draft. “But I think Skinner did a great job and deserves a good look at that job. And there’s still a bunch of guys, like Binnington.

“I think it will be different in years past but I think Canada will be OK.”

Maybe so. But when you compare their candidates to, say, the United States, which can choose from a rich pool that includes Jeremy Swayman of the Boston Bruins; Connor Hellebuyck, the 2024 Vezina Trophy winner as the NHL’s top goaltender; Jake Oettinger of the Dallas Stars; and Thatcher Demko of the Vancouver Canucks, goaltending seems to be Canada’s Achilles’ heel.

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“We should be fine,” general manager Don Sweeney said. “We have time to find out.”

Meanwhile, Crosby is already excited about the tournament.

“There’s obviously a lot of excitement to represent Canada in the best way possible,” Crosby said. “It’s been a long time since we’ve had the opportunity to do that. I think if you talk to all the people who were named today, I’m sure they’re all excited.”

MacKinnon certainly is, as he really tapped into Crosby’s brain as to what line combinations might look like.

“We were on a golf trip and he brought it up,” Crosby said. “I think it was the first day. He was just kind of playing with my mind. … It was a lot of fun to get the opportunity to play with him at the 2015 World Championships. It’s been a long time since then.”

Crosby, MacKinnon and Marchand are all from Nova Scotia and have hot training sessions in the Halifax area during the summer.

“It’s definitely intense when we get there,” Crosby said. “But I think that’s the great thing about it. We all want to see each other do well but we’re all really competitive as well.

“I hope we bring out the best in each other, or maybe sometimes, the worst.”

For Tampa Bay Lightning’s John Cooper, it’s a chance to finally get another chance to coach Canada in a best-of-the-best tournament. He was close to doing so at the 2022 Olympics before the tournament was canceled due to concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Being on the doorstep before and feeling in the pit of your stomach when you don’t have that opportunity, well, that feeds you,” Cooper said.

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“You represent your country. What more can you say?”

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